I love Charles de Lint, and I love his Newford books. I haven’t read all of them, but I’ve read most of them.
Summary via Goodreads.com:
With the help of a mentor and an anonymous benefactor, Jilly Coppercorn has overcome abuse, addiction, and a stint in juvie. Though she still struggles to stay clean, she has found safety and love in a newly formed family that includes her loyal best friend, a lovely artist, and her caseworker. Temptation comes knocking, however, when her best friend from the bad old days rides in on a motorcycle and takes Jilly to a beautiful, mysterious city full of wonderful opportunities. It seems perfect at first, until Jilly discovers that it was a one-way trip and she still has unfinished business in Newford. At turns playful and serious, this urban fantasy introduces de Lint’s most enduring character and grapples with the realities of life-changing choices
This book fills in some of the story of Jilly’s past. She’s referred to these events frequently, and she’s told the story of how she emerged from her life of abuse before. There’s another part of her story that I haven’t encountered before, a part where she explores a world that isn’t the same Otherworld that Newford has such a strong link to, but a world the de Lint explores in The Mystery of Grace.
This being de Lint, it’s pretty much a given that there will be characters with depth facing real challenges. There will the not so nice side of life in our world, but presented through the eyes of characters that don’t make it seem easy, but keep it from being so impossible as to be dreary reading. There is magic in the story, and magic in the storytelling.
Certainly, any Newford fan should read this book. It disappoints mildly primarily in being short and in spending time revisiting known territory, but there is plenty of new content here. Even if you’ve only spent a little time getting acquainted with Newford,this book is fine to pick up any time. There are no spoilers for earlier books, and there are no plot points that hinge on earlier events.
But should someone who hasn’t read a Newford book start here? Certainly, there isn’t a need to have read the previous ones to follow the plot, and I think the characters are compelling exactly as the appear here. However, part of the fun was seeing early incarnations of some of the other characters that appear in the books, and in feeling like a layer of depth is being added to Jilly.
I don’t know that I’d start here, but I would recommend visiting Newford if you haven’t already.
Thank you to Tachyon Press for sending me this book to review!